The Prepper Journal

‘X’ Marks the Spot: Free Software Helps Map Your Future Homestead

‘X’ Marks the Spot: Free Software Helps Map Your Future Homestead - The Prepper Journal

LaIR Data Explorer for Google Earth.

Editors Note: The following guest article has been generously contributed by Matt Sevald. Matt has created a unique mapping extension for Google Earth that as he explains below will allow preppers to search for their perfect future homestead site with information Matt has compiled on various threats. This is a powerful tool that Matt has graciously shared with the readers of the Prepper Journal first. It is free, powerfully informative and worth a look if you are interested in knowing the threats around you before moving to your future homestead.

The concept of homesteading is a central tenet of my life plan. I have written before of its virtues and how it can fall favorably into anyone’s SHTF Plan, provided they are willing to work. Yet what benefit is there to a piece of property if it isn’t idyllic, or can’t be transformed? You can buy a house for a buck in my old home town of Detroit, but would you want to live there? As they say in the real estate business, it’s all about “location, location, location.” To help fellow homesteaders and preppers find their retreat location, I am unveiling the Land and Information Resource (LaIR), version 1.0, for the United States.

File Download Instructions:

  1. Download the LaIR file. This file is a kmz file type which opens in Google Earth. It is packaged inside a ZIP file.
  2. Unzip the file to a location you have easy access to like your Download’s folder or the desktop.
  3. Install Google Earth if you haven’t already.
  4. Open Google Earth
  5. Click on File/Open and select the LaIR v10.kmz file.
  6. Zoom to the areas of interest and check or uncheck the boxes next to the Saved Regions you want to see.

Buying a house never looked so easy…


The main categories, unselected so the map displays blank. Low-end computers will benefit from displaying only a minimum of items at a time. Play around to find out what works.

LaIR is an open source mapping and data storage resource, utilizing the “pin” features of Google Earth coupled with Metzger & Willard’s RINGS program (each its own download) which allows users to display rings, or sections of rings, around a central point (I will leave it to the reader to learn the intricacies of those specific programs). In essence, you search for property locations on the internet, pin them with the GE features, add whatever kind of data you care about such as seller comments, price per acre, realtor info, URL, etc. and then compare to other parameters you have set up through RINGS such as proximity to hospitals, major cities, or nuclear power plants, etc. This allows you to compare lots of data and narrow a wide field of locations down to a few you can go out and explore physically, saving you valuable time and gas money. While the introductory picture looks like a scene from WarGames, the ease of use via its intuitive layout makes LaIR incredibly user and PC resource friendly.

Division of Data

Information is separated into categories to make searching and display as efficient as possible. Originally I had each of the 50 states in its own folder, filled with all the variables I had programmed as major (mappable) concerns for someone looking to purchase land, they were: proximity to hospitals, to nuclear sites, to military bases, and to jails and prisons. These are all generally permanent facilities which have positive and negative impacts on the surrounding area. As I worked on the map, I slowly realized how unworkable the screen became. All the different icons and distance rings slowed down my computer and in some cases blocked view of the earth itself. I needed to find a better way, so I reorganized the data by category, with a state folder located in each, which is the version I am releasing to the public today. As an example, if you want to know what hospitals are near your home, all you have to do is select your state within the hospital category, rather than the old way which had you select your state and then deselect everything else you didn’t want.

In order to display any of the data, simply check the box next to its title to display everything within that category, or double-click on the category to expand it and narrow what you display. Within each category are the FEMA Regions which allows a smaller area of the country to be examined, and within those folders are the individual states comprising each region. As an interesting aside, have you ever noticed how FEMA divides up the country like one of those butcher charts? I can hear Robert Mitchum now: “FEMA. It’s what’s for dinner. dun dun dun.



Utah: The armpit of both America and the cow.

Information in all categories is accurate as of August, 2015, but should be verified if being used to assist traveling or moving. All ring distances are “as the crow flies” and do not account for roads, terrain, or weather. Other, non-mappable, topics of concern such as gun and hunting laws, local politics, zoning ordinances, school performance, personal liberty scores, compliance with the Constitution, etc. are the responsibility of the individual user to research.

Homesteading Sites

Self-explanatory. Places you would like to move to or are planning to move to. Plot them, store your research, and compare to the myriad of other factors affecting your idyllic home.

Jails and Prisons

A representation of areas within the immediate vicinity of local, state, and federal jails and prisons in the United States. The list is not entirely comprehensive as government organizations post information which vary in thoroughness from one source to the next.

The long arm of the law…out to ten miles. In a SHTF scenario, a prison will have many people trying to get out – or possibly allowed out, flooding the area with refugees, many of whom may be violent with nothing to lose. It may also serve as a fortified location to hold up in if abandoned.

Jails and Prisons are indicated by a yellow policeman on the map, surrounded by a yellow ring of radius 10 miles. Occasionally, jails and prisons are clustered into “complexes” immediately next to each other and for convenience sake have been omitted in favor of a single marker because the geographical area affected by their presence had not significantly changed.

Urban areas such as Chicago, here, have a multitude of hospitals. Consider the tradeoff between medical care versus privacy and security.

Level I & Level II Trauma Centers

A representation of areas within roughly one hour distance from Level I and Level II Trauma Centers in the United States. These are major hospitals, with 24 hour emergency, stroke, cardiac, and trauma staff. A Level I trauma center is also a teaching hospital and thus has additional personnel and instructors available to ensure the highest quality of care available in our nation. There are numerous smaller hospitals and clinics in each state which are not displayed.

Hospitals are indicated by a red “H” on the map, surrounded by a blue ring of radius 60 miles. Occasionally, hospitals with different names share the same physical building or are neighbors on the same block (e.g. an adult and a children’s hospital) and for convenience have been omitted because the geographical area covered by their services had not changed. Information gathered from American College of Surgeons and various state and hospital websites.

Nuclear Sites

A representation of areas within roughly one hour distance from nuclear facilities, waste disposal areas, or hazardous spill/disaster/testing sites in the United States. Nuclear facilities are indicated by a small black and yellow radiation symbol on the map, surrounded by a red ring of radius 60 miles. Spill/disaster/testing sites are indicated by a large radiation symbol, surrounded by a thick red ring of radius 60 miles.

Nuclear fallout and other hazards can be transported downwind from these sites. The red ring is only a notification that unhealthy things exist in the area. Safety concerning living and traveling, and the consumption of food and water near and downwind from these sites is strictly the responsibility of the individual. Information gathered from various state, federal, and watchdog websites.

Even if the regular plants were completely clean (which they’re not), look at those disaster and spill sites. Who wants to live near a weapons-grade plutonium weapon facility or somewhere the Army thought would be OK to dump nuclear waste without disclosure or oversight? Version 2.0 will include industrial accidents.

Natural Disaster Concerns

This is more of a free-for-all section for users to put in their own notes. I have mapped all volcanoes within the 50 states that are believed to have erupted within that last 1,000 years. Overkill? Perhaps. Yellowstone is on there, but with so many other resources for “fallout” and “kill zone” maps available, as well as lack of a clean way to display such in LaIR, I refrained from including more than the caldera itself. I am considering fault lines for version 2.0.

Military Bases

The elephant in the room. A representation of areas within roughly two hours distance from active military bases in the United States. There are numerous inactive and smaller facilities which do not serve the function of traditional military bases with armed personnel (e.g. recruitment centers) and are therefore not displayed.

Military bases are indicated by a green tent on the map, surrounded by a green ring of radius 120 miles. Air forces can naturally cover more distance and land forces may be impeded by roads and terrain much the same as civilians are. Information gathered from various state, federal, military, and veteran websites.

Nowhere in the eastern half of the country is outside of 2 hours from a military base. ‘Flyover country’ and the Rocky Mountains are the only areas where rapid military response would be potentially impeded, but not impossible.

Is this good? Bad? It depends on what the military is being used for. If you’re a veteran and have base access privileges, this could be an excellent thing so you can shop at the PX or even hop on base to avoid local unrest. Such strategic deployment of staged resources allows for rapid response to disasters, unrest, and invasion, but if the government chooses to initiate martial law the populace doesn’t stand a chance.

Final Thoughts

LaIR is an excellent resource which taps the vast sea of knowledge available to mankind via simple internet searches of the public domain, which has in turn been condensed into a single, usable format. The boundaries of this knowledge are endless, but the focus of LaIR remains to assist those looking for suitable home sites to raise families, live quietly, and get away from it all in a way that is more natural to what humanity has experienced since time immemorial. Use of this open source application and the public domain information contained therein is entirely the sole responsibility of the user.

Please use the program, get inside, tear it apart, and let me know about mistakes, omissions, and features you’d like to see in future versions.

Happy homesteading and peaceful living!

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